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Guess what? You don’t need any fancy, expensive software to jazz up your typography game. Thanks to the OpenType font format, even the latest versions of everyday and professional software have a treasure trove of alternate character designs – you just need to know where to find them.

In this article, get ready to learn how to work some magic with a bunch of user-friendly applications. You’ll discover how to give that special oomph to an important letter in a word – like the first or last letter of a name – or switch up the look of a whole bunch of text. Imagine taking your invitations, greeting cards, logos, and even your resume to a whole new level!


All About OpenType Fonts


Back in 2000, the OpenType font format stepped up to replace TrueType and PostScript formats, and boy, did it bring some serious firepower to fonts. Font wizards started crafting advanced OpenType fonts – often tagged with a “Pro” in their name – that came packed with thousands of characters, or glyphs as they’re called.

As the years rolled on, these font creators got even more creative. They started adding multiple versions of certain characters, giving you the power to customize your text in fantastic ways. However, while swapping one character for an alternate glyph can be tons of fun, it can also get a bit tricky. Some advanced OpenType fonts have tons of alternatives for some characters but not much for others. And let’s be honest, not all alternates look great when they’re side by side with specific other characters.

But don’t worry, some font pros have your back. They’ve included stylistic sets in advanced OpenType fonts – these are special combos of alternate characters carefully chosen by the font designers. And that’s not all – some fonts are like treasure chests of typographic goodies, featuring extra alternate glyph sets with fancy names like contextual alternates, swash alternates, and titling alternates. Now, here’s the cool part – you don’t need fancy software to access these features anymore; they’re accessible to everyone. How cool is that?

Accessing advanced OpenType features

Unlocking those fancy advanced OpenType features is a breeze, and how you do it depends on the application you’re using. But guess what? I’ve got your back with the basics. Ready?

Step one: Highlight some text and give it a splash of that advanced OpenType font magic. Got it? Awesome. Now, for the fun part, highlight the specific character(s) or word(s) that you want to switch up.


For All the Apple Lovers


If you’re all about that Apple life and you’re using applications like TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, or iBooks Author, here’s what you do: Go ahead and click on Format at the top, then Font, and finally, Show Fonts. Or, if you’re all about shortcuts, press Command-T – you’re in!

  1. Write the Word
  2. Block alternates letter
  3. click Format > Show Fonts > … > Typography > Alternative Stylistic Sets > choose the stylistic set 

‘Spot that cute gear menu? Give it a click – it’s circled and ready for action. Now, here comes the good stuff – choose Typography from the menu. A panel will pop up, and there’s your trusty triangle next to the Alternates section. Click it, and watch the magic unfold. You’ll see a list of alternates, just waiting for you to turn them on and bring some excitement to your highlighted text.

Oh, but that’s not all! Some fonts have these stylish sets – think of them as the font’s secret stash of special combos. If your font is in on this game (not all fonts are, mind you), you’ll find a section named Alternative Stylistic Sets. And for those fonts with the magical power of contextual alternates, there’s a spot for that too! These contextual alternates might just throw in some ornamental swashes that’ll make your text look like it’s ready for the red carpet.

So, there you have it – your guide to diving into those OpenType wonders, all wrapped up in a bow for the Apple aficionados out there. Let the font fun begin!


For Microsoft Word


Now, if you’re a Microsoft Word enthusiast, I’ve got some good news and a bit of a bummer. The bummer first – alternate glyphs are a no-go in Microsoft Word. But don’t fret, because there’s still some font fun you can have, especially if you’re working with Word 2010 or a newer version.

  1. Write a words
  2. Block alternates letter
  3.  Click Format > Font > Advanced > Choose Stylistic sets > OK

Here’s the scoop: Click on Format up top, then Font. A fancy dialog box will pop up, and guess what? This is where the magic happens. Look for the word “Advanced” and give it a little click. It’s like opening a treasure chest!

And there you have it, a shiny menu called “Stylistic Sets.” Give that a click too, and you’re in for a treat. You’ll find some nifty contextual alternates hiding under this menu as well. It’s like giving your text a little extra flair, Microsoft Word style.

So while alternate glyphs might be taking a break in Word, you’ve still got those stylistic sets and contextual alternates in your corner. Let the font adventures continue!

Accessing Stylistic Sets in Font Book


Stylistic sets are a hidden gem within the realm of typography, offering a myriad of possibilities to enhance the visual appeal of your text. These sets are alternate character designs that a font can include, providing an array of choices for specific letters or characters. To access these stylistic sets in Font Book, a built-in application on macOS designed for font management, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open Font Book
  2. Choose the font
  3. Choose the stylistic letter
  4. Copy
  5. Paste in the applications that you want to use


Accessing Stylistic Sets in PowerPoint


Unleashing your creative flair in PowerPoint presentations goes beyond visuals and content arrangement; it extends to the very letters that compose your text. Stylistic sets, offering diverse alternate characters within a font, can elevate your typography game. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to access stylistic sets in PowerPoint:

  1. Write words
  2. Block stylistic letter that want to replace
  3. Open Font Book > Choose stylistic letter
  4. Copy and Paste in Powerpoint


Stylistic Sets in Adobe Applications


Alright, Adobe aficionados, here’s your time to shine! If you’re working your creative magic in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop, get ready for some alternate glyph action.

For InDesign and Illustrator, follow this breadcrumb trail: Click on Window at the top, then Type & Tables, and finally, Glyphs. And hey, Photoshop fans, you’re just a click away – go for Window, then Glyphs. Ta-da!

Now, take a look at the panel that magically appears. Spot the Show menu? It’s your golden ticket. Give it a click and select “Alternates for Selection.” Boom! You’ve just opened the door to a world of alternate glyphs.

And here’s the fun part – when you see those alternate glyph thumbnails, double-click on the one you want. Watch as the magic unfolds and your chosen glyph replaces the original. It’s like giving your text a snazzy makeover with just a couple of clicks.

So there you have it, Adobe champs – you’re all set to dive into the world of alternate glyphs in InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. It’s like having your very own font playground!